SEOUL, June 28 (UPI) -- South Korea and Japan plan to sign a military agreement, the first such pact between the two historic rivals, a South Korean official said.
Japan alerted South Korea its Cabinet would approve the agreement Friday and it would be signed in Tokyo immediately, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement allows Seoul and Tokyo to exchange classified and other sensitive intelligence on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, as well as information about China, officials said.
South Korea's Cabinet approved the pact Tuesday.
"If things go as planned, the two nations will sign the pact on Friday," the South Korean Foreign Ministry official said, speaking anonymously.
The announcement unleashed political fury in South Korea, where resentment of Japan's early 20th Century colonization remains and any sign of Japan's growing military role is met with suspicion, The New York Times reported.
Opposition leaders accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak of ignoring anti-Japanese sentiments in proceeding with the treaty.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae denied speculation that South Korea was pressured to sign the agreement by the United States, which has urged South Korea and Japan to strengthen military ties as hostilities from North Korea grow and China rises in power.
"Many people would agree in principle that Korea-U.S.-Japan cooperation is important in terms of our security, but it is not the truth that the pact has been hastily pushed," Cho said.
The North Korean-run Web site Uriminzokkiri (Among our People) criticized Seoul's agreeing to a military pact with Japan, calling it an "unpatriotic act," Yonhap reported.
The article posted Thursday said, "There is an urgent reason for South Korea to sign a military pact with Japan. That is the pressure from the United States."
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